Myne Whitman: A rejoinder to “Men can do nothing against rape”

by Myne Whitman

Real men don't rape

Rape is not about sex, but about power and exerting dominance, and that is why more women and children are raped than the other way around.

I try not to take most things too seriously, but there are issues that get my blood boiling. One of those topics is rape. Women and children continue to be the vast majority when victims of rape are numbered, and I find it galling that our culture would rather blame them or sweep the stories under the carpet, than face the men who perpetrate this hate crime, and deal them full and swift justice.

Now, Kenechi Uzochukwu, who I know and have met, and who reads this blog, has written an article for YNaija that seems to be in response to my earlier post, ‘Lets talk to the men who rape, shall we?

In his article, Kenechi agrees with my point that a lot of Nigerian men struggle with thoughts of rape, or may have raped before. [This I think is due to the heavily patriarchal culture in Nigeria, where women are expected to be subservient to men, and women’s bodies are seen as owned by their men or the society].

But then he goes ahead to blame women, and the victims of rape, stating they provoke rape due to the way they dress to kill. In his opinion, even if you’re not raped for dressing indecently, you may cause other decent women and children to be raped. While a lot of people have, deservedly, jumped on Kenechi Uzochukwu’s head, let’s not forget that a Kano lawyer made similar statements in the past, and that several Nigerian men, and even women, think the same way. One article on Naijastories goes on to blame mothers who breastfeed in public for arousing men, and causing rape!

Am I saying we should not rebut Kenechi Uzochukwu, or others of his ilk? NO! I am saying that even as we castigate him, we should look beyond him, because he’s just a symptom. We should try to look inwards and focus on the cause – our culture. We might not be able to change Kenechi, but we can change ourselves and those under our influence, our brothers, cousins, friends and sons. We have a long way to go to change the mentality of men who are brought up to see themselves as Lords and Masters over women.

Rape is not about sex, but about power and exerting dominance, and that is why more women and children are raped than the other way around. Some men even rape fellow men. It doesn’t help that in Nigeria, rape and its perpetrators are rarely reported. When they do, victims are maltreated, and at the end, these rapists get off lightly.

So, Kenechi – and all men that think like him whether they say it or not – it goes beyond a man being able to exercise self control or about women guarding their sexuality and how they dress. It is about men like you developing respect and empathy for women. I won’t ask you to think about if it was your mother, daughters, or sisters being raped. I will say think about if women were human beings like you. Think about rape victims and think about yourself being raped. By a man. A man who is twice your size.

Think about that, and please stop raping.



Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

Comments (5)

  1. I have now read the initial article, the clarification, the apology and the rejoinder(s) so I feel like I am competent to voice an opinion. I have never posted a response on a blog or article but I feel compelled to say something. I am disturbed by so many aspects of this and I will try to outline my thoughts clearly. My biggest problem is not Mr Kenechi. As much as his views fill me with dread and revulsion, he is definitely not alone. If he were an outlier, it would be easy to castigate him and probably ensure that he gets the help that he so obviously needs. My fear is that his thoughts and words actually reflect the mainstream views (particularly of men) in our society. Myne Whitman put it best when she alluded that the cause is due to our patriarchical culture and women being seen as objects owned by men. Without dealing with that, it is hard to make any sense of this issue. I noted with dismay that all the (negative) responses to Mr Uzochukwu's article have been by women. Where are all the men out there that believe that rape is a vile, disgusting, immoral act perpetuated by animals. Men who have sisters, mothers, daughters, friends and know in their core that no matter the "provocation", they could NEVER resort to rape. I proudly affirm myself as one of these men. This is a time to stand up and be counted. Blaming the victim is never the answer. As has been noted severally, rape is not always a crime of sex. It is a display of power, control and domination. Some have said that what he has expressed is a point of view of the rapist. I beg to disagree. What he has actually done is to try to exert another form of control over women that he disagrees with (namely those that do not dress "decently" in his opinion). By putting the blame of rape (theirs and others including children) at these women's doorstep, what he is saying is that they need to change for the good of the society. This is wrong as well. To assume that a man has no choice or defense in the matter is just ridiculous. There are many societies where the women expose more of their bodies than we do in Nigeria and rape is almost non-existent. There are also societies that women cover almost all of their body and yet rape abounds. It goes to the core of how we as individual men and as a population of males as well as how our culture views women. Cultures that promote respect and empathy for women will have less rape. We need to tackle this problem at a population level by changing how women are regarded in Nigeria (and Africa).

  2. Myne, nice rejoinder but there are some things we need to consider:
    It is true that Kenechi might have written a piece that was somewhat insensitive and yes, poorly moderated but the truth is his article raised some point that we have to think about. While we lash out at him, let’s still think more on how to stop rape in all. Can we look at the root causes too? There’s much to think of. We can’t just condemn him in totality. Ask again: true he said a lot of things to make people angry but was there a small amount of sense at all in all he wrote? Can we learn from it?

    On another note, the gentleman has apologized and asked that the articles be removed from this site. That tells a lot. He has said he is not a rapist and totally condemns rape in its entirety. It would be nice to have a link to his apology post put here too. At least, he deserves that.
    May Aondo (GOD) save us and our country. Amen.

  3. yea, what he has done is to provide us with “the rapists” point of view. That point of view needs to be understood to combat rape.

  4. @ Away From The Herd. I agree with most of the points you’ve made. But “internet jungle justice” was only natural. Trust me, it would have been a lot worse if this article was published on a website based in another country (particularly a developed country). In fact, the article wouldn’t have been published in the first place. So what did you expect? Rape is a very sensitive issue. Any writer who handles that topic with a display of insensitivity should be prepared for public backlash.

    If you don’t know how to begin an intelligent, well researched conversation on rape, the best thing to do is to avoid writing about it on public forums. Discuss it in beer parlours with your friends.

    The world has changed. Nigeria may be far behind but we’re making progress at least. There is little tolerance for sexist, demeaning, deviant and dangerous views of any kind.

    I really hope Kelechi has learned his lesson.

  5. A rejoinder?, really?. Le sigh for Nigeria and Nigerians as a whole. Yes Kenechi’s article was poorly moderated and written(the editor should be fired IMHO) but instead of at least focusing on the topic which was rape y’all jumped on his head and performed Internet jungle justice.

    I don’t endorse his post in any ramification but it made me think. What can be done in terms of counselling and awareness to men about rape and how can we support rape victims. That is just me but to a lot of people he(Kenechi) is just a stupid rapist who deserves to be crucified.

    Such thinking is still what makes rapists go scot free in Nigeria. Le sigh for my country, Le sigh.

    Rather than jump on that train, here i am airing my opinion waiting for one moronic idiot to abuse me for supporting the enemy. Le sigh.

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